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Subject: Moving to France and working
Date: Saturday, November 11, 2006
Name: Meg
Message: My boyfriend is french, and currently in the process of completing his medical residency there. I'm an american citizen, and I have been contemplating moving over there. Based on the embassy website, we've deduced that being married is really the easiest way. I am concerned about being able to find employment in france (my background is in pharmacy, I currently work in the pharamceutical industry). My boyfriend seems to think that french companies are willing to hire americans because the law about hiring french natives first is no longer active, I am not so sure. I was wondering if anybody had any input at all about finding work there and how long the process is? Also, if we were married, how long would it take for me to be legally able to work. Can someone work with the titre de sejour or do they need an additional work VISA on top of that?

Replies Posted 6.

Name Andrea
Message Hello Diane and Samantha, I was just reading your information you passed on to Meg. I too am moving to France to be with my fiancé. We are actually going to do the PACS in order for me to stay and I have been reading about how this PACS thin works over there. I was wondering though have either the too of you join with someone there in France with a PACS? And is there anything that you could tell me (or enlighten me) about this fairly new communion of two people? Ive read so much but I know that there must something that I overlooked or that maybe has changed. If both of you could please help me in some of my questions (Im sure Ill have more later) that would be wonderful. Thank you so much.

Name Diane
Message Another thing that might be helpful to know is that in France once you get a job, you tend to stay in the same position for years and years. It is very rare to get either a raise or a promotion. In my field, I need to be very careful with the kind of companies I would work for, since working for certain companies kind of closes the door to more prestigious ones. And yes, it is true that if you come here and you don't speak the language, you are going to be spending a lot of time at home, doing the housework. My advice is that if you really want to advance your career, stay in the U.S. I find that it is really the best place to get jobs and to advance your career. I think it would also be easier for your French spouse to find work in the U.S. than it would be for you to find work in France.

Name Samantha
Message Sorry for the delay in replying, but I've spent the past few days trying to think about how I should reply. And the answer is - I don't have a good answer. I've been here over three years now and still don't have a permanent job, much to my great frustration. I've done just about everything - worked as an interpretor, in a hotel, at a museum, at the marina, teaching English, etc.

While these jobs helped pay the bills, they weren't the reason that I spent five years in school, so at the end of the day, that still meant I wasn't doing what I enjoy and what I worked so hard to do. And I hear the same story over and over from expats who followed their boyfriend/spouse to France. The majority are unemployed and have had to content themselves to being housewives. The only ones who are doing what they wanted are those that studied to be teachers, and even then, they are pigeon-holed into teaching English (while they'd prefer to be teaching other subjects).

There are many good things about France, but unfortunately the job market isn't one of them. If your career is very important to you, it's worth thinking long and hard about moving here. But if you can see yourself being content sitting at home, then definitely go for it; some people are happy to leave the rat race.

You might also want to start reading some of the expat-in-France blogs, that will give you a good idea of some of the typical things expats experience.

Out of curiosity, what part of France would you be moving to? Finding A JOB (though probably not one in your field) will of course be easier in Paris than in a smaller city.

Name Meg
Message Thanks, I appreciate both your responses. I'm trying to investigate this before I go there and find myself struggling to get a job! I am concerned that we don't have enough financial resources to depend on my boyfriend alone, as he is only a medical resident at this point and from what you both said, it sounds like it can be quite a lengthy process to actually find a job and get hired. And like you said, I am worried about my french speaking abilities. I have no problem ordering in a restaurant and making small talk, but working is another thing entirely. Samantha, were you ever successful in finding a job? How long did it take? Thanks for your honesty!

Name Diane
Message I agree 100% with what Samantha said. It will be EXTREMELY hard for you to find work here in France as an American, even if you are the spouse of a French citizen (and yes, the easiest way to get your papers is via marriage).

I am currently looking for jobs now and it has been really frustrating and hard. There are just no jobs available. Plus, here in France, things operate on the "piston" theory, which means that you need to know the right people to get something you want. This includes jobs - you need to know someone somewhere in order to get in. I suppose this doesn't exist as much in the pharmaceutical industry as it does in the art/design industry, but it's really the best way to get a job. The problem is, even if you have a lot of contacts, it's not a guarantee that you'll be able to get a job, since there needs to be an opening. And if there's an opening, there are going to be about a million people applying for that job, and given the unemployment rate here, it will most likely go to a French citizen or an EU citizen, and highly unlikely to go to an American. Thus said, it may be easier for you if you can get a job at the French branch of an American company.

Good luck.

Name Samantha
Message This might not be what you want to hear, but is extremely difficult for foreigners to find work here, especially if your French is not fluent. I also think that when they do hire foreigners, they prefer ones from inside the EU because it's a lot less paperwork. Plus, unemployment is at 10%, so that's a lot of competition from French people out there claiming to be bilingual.

I would not count on finding work in the pharmaceutical industry, as the French do not recognize any American diplomas relating to the medical field, so you would need to redo your diploma before being able to work here. (I'm speaking from experience, after a long and expensive fight in trying to get my dietetics qualifications approved). Also, there is the fact that French meds are completely different and often sold under different names here - would you really feel comfortable doing your current job in French?

If you are married, you will be able to work right away, though if you are not ready to get married, you might want to consider getting PACSed instead. It is basically a civil union between two people and gives you the right to work and live here as if you were married. In either case, you would not need a seperate work visa.

I don't mean to be negative, but I was in exactly your situation three years ago, and I wish someone would've told me that before I came so I would've had a bit more realistic expectations. Please feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.

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